President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday told his deputy William Ruto to quit Government if he is unhappy.
In an all-out war directed at Ruto, the president for the first time spoke out against his embattled deputy, rebuking him for consistently undermining his authority, with the latest being on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
“How many governments do we have? moja ama mbili. It’s only one. If you want to enjoy its goodies remain, if you are mentioning its faults, quit. Leave others contented with the Government to continue its governance,” he said in Uthiru, Nairobi County.
Coming just two days after President Kenyatta vowed to jealously guard the presidency and ensure his successor is not a “thief and oppressor”, he did not mince his words when he told Ruto to toe the line or ship out.
The president was speaking after opening a hospital built by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). He later launched a water project built by the Athi Water Works Development Authority (AWWDA).
Uhuru warned Ruto and his allies against inciting Kenyans to violence.
President Kenyatta’s verbal attack on his deputy contradicts the gleeful moments in November 28, 2017, when he and Ruto posed for a photo after their swearing-in for the second term in office. Their faces were beaming with joy.
Dressed in near similar suits and ties, with nearly 50,000 supporters cheering them on, they seemed set to finish their term in style.
For the Jubilee duo, everything seemed to be going well, buoyed by their victory after a repeat election on October 26 that was boycotted by the Opposition.
However, the celebration after the swearing-in at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, did not last even a month.
Despite the hot weather that comes with November and December, the bromance that had lasted five years started to grow cold.
Uhuru took two months to name his Cabinet and insiders said it was here that the difference began.
“We started noticing that the president was no longer enthusiastic with his deputy in December 2017,” said a Ruto allied MP from Mt Kenya region.
The MP said when President Kenyatta was going through the names of who would work in his government, Ruto was not kept close like it was during the campaigns.
In June 2018, President Kenyatta, while addressing residents of Embakasi in Nairobi, derogatorily said his deputy was wandering aimlessly across the country.
“Hii kijana inaitwa Ruto unajuwa kila wikendi anatangatanga kila pahali, atakuwa anapitia hizi machorochoro akiona kuna kitu inaenda kona kona mmwambie,” said President Kenyatta.
And from this statement, Tangatanga was born, and it has within three years grown into a new party, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
The relationship between the duo can be traced back to 1999 when Ruto was among the friends that approached Nominated MP Mark Too to step down for Uhuru to get a slot in the seventh Parliament.
It is this entry into the august House that thrust Uhuru into politics that eventually culminated in him being elected the country’s fourth president, with Ruto on his side.
In 2002, Ruto was one of only two people who stood with Uhuru when he conceded defeat to President-elect Mwai Kibaki. The second person was former minister, the late Mutula Kilonzo.
Therefore, for over 21 years, the two have hang onto each other with little strain on their political relationship.
But yesterday, referring to his erstwhile friend and political ally as “wale wengine”, the president faulted Ruto for mastering the art of double speak, where on the one hand he is critical of the Government and on the other, he takes credit for the achievements made.
“How many governments do we have? How many do you know?” he asked the crowd, which responded that it’s one.
“You cannot speak differently. From one mouth it’s okay, on the other it’s bad. You are full of insults targeted at those you are in government with and you pride yourself for working with them.”
Uhuru also accused the DP of disrespect and incitement.
“Respect is not slavery. Let’s respect each other and if we do so, Kenya will be a good country. It will be a democratic, clean and peaceful country. It will be a country Kenyans will be proud of,” he said.
“There is no need of inciting Kenyans to fight amongst themselves.”
It is not the first time that the president has hinted that he may not endorse Ruto to succeed him.
While addressing a rally in Karatina, Nyeri County, in early 2019, Uhuru told the crowd that his choice of a successor will shock them.
That was in itself shocking to the residents, who over a year earlier had been told by the same president that he would finish his 10 years then back Ruto to complete another 10 years in office.
However, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri yesterday said it was the president who was inciting the public against his deputy.
“Don’t incite people against your deputy, let Kenyans decide. When you say you will make sure not to leave the country in the hands of thieves, what are you trying to tell us? Who are these thieves, what did they steal? You have all the machinery, you are in charge, why are you not making arrests?” posed Ngunjiri.
He termed the fallout between Uhuru and Ruto as the height of political betrayal.
The MP recalled how they campaigned on ‘Uhuru 10 and Ruto 10’ mantra, only for the president to abandon the DP.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said there would be no shock because they would expect the president to keep his word as promised publicly.